Bush doctors need bigger carrot

BOOSTING incentives through relocation grants and getting rural students into medical school are some of the ways to solve the shortage of doctors in the bush, an expert has said.

Rural Doctors Association Queensland president Dr Ewan McPhee said this, along with specialised training for doctors to suit the needs of the bush, would go a long way to recruiting more doctors to regional areas like Warwick.

"We're not seeing any incentives for doctors to go out to the bush," Dr McPhee said.

"Firstly, we need to provide relocation grants so doctors can pack up their gear and families and move to rural areas.

"If it's the same income for somewhere on the Gold Coast as it is for a rural town, which one are they going to choose?" he said.

He said differential rebate systems also needed to be put in place.

"If people go to rural doctors, they should get more back on Medicare," Dr McPhee said.

"And the further out doctors live, the higher their income should be.

"It is a fact that rural people have poorer health, they don't live as long and are more likely to die of cancer, because they are less likely and less able to seek medical attention."

Dr McPhee said rural students were less likely to be considered for a position in medical school than someone who lived in the city, and this needed to change.

He said the fourth course of action that needed to take place was specifically training doctors in areas that are in demand in the country.

Australian Medical Association Queensland president Dr Richard Kidd said it was a matter of banding the community together to make Warwick more inviting for young doctors.

"There used to be this wonderful country community hospitality, which from personal experience was a very positive experience, and that makes people feel welcome in the community," Dr Kidd said.

"It's about supporting international medical graduates who are the backbone of rural medicine."



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